SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — The Capital District rivalry renewed itself for the 2000-2001 season and it was the Union Skating Dutchmen that won their second in a row at home over the Rensselaer Engineers on the strength of four power play goals, 4-2.
The ECAC season started early for both teams and for the third time in a row, the Dutchmen took the opening ECAC game between the two clubs.
The Dutchmen got on the board quickly, just 1:46 into the game, when Clark Jones tipped a Brent Booth point shot over the left shoulder of Engineer goaltender Nathan Marsters.
Later in the first period, the Dutchmen got their second power play and their second power-play goal. Jeff Wilson hammered home a shot that rebounded off a mass of bodies in front after a Jeff Hutchins point shot.
In the second period, the Engineers got within one goal on the power play. Marc Cavosie took the puck in his own end and rushed up ice and caught three Dutchmen flat-footed at the blue line and then snapped a wrister past Dutchmen goaltender Brandon Snee.
With 55 seconds left in the second period the Engineers got the equalizer. Off a faceoff play in the Union zone, defenseman Danny Eberly came down the right boards and squared himself behind Snee. He then quickly tossed the puck out front to a waiting Carson Butterwick, who one-timed it past Snee.
In the third, the Dutchmen retook the lead when Wilson scored his second power-play goal of the game. Wilson got a rebound shot past Marsters for the lead.
Later in the third period, the Engineers were on three consecutive power plays, including two five-on-three power plays, but could not convert as the last power play was shortened by an Engineer penalty. As Union’s penalty expired, the Dutchmen converted on their fourth power play goal of the evening on a controversial play.
Union dumped the puck into the Rensselaer zone and the puck was fed in front of the net by Clark Jones. A mass of bodies in front forced Marsters into the goal post and dislodged the net. In the meantime, Jason Ralph pounced on the loose puck in the slot and backhanded it into the net past Marsters.
Referee Tim Kotyra allowed the goal, despite the fact that the net had been dislodged for at least five seconds.
That goal sealed the Dutchmen victory.
“Nobody saw it,” Rensselaer head coach Dan Fridgen said. “There’s not much you can do when nobody sees it. I don’t think they saw it after the goal either.
“But forget that part of it. It’s just ridiculous, all the little things you do to kill penalties, blocking shots mainly, we weren’t doing. I thought it came down to special teams, we had a lot of opportunities on the power play and we didn’t convert. We don’t move the puck around and we try to hold onto it and look for an opening. Well, you have to create an opening. And we didn’t kill penalties as good as we could.”
“I don’t know what the right or wrong call is on that,” said Union head coach Kevin Sneddon. “I’ve been on the other end of that as well.
“But, our power play has been doing very well. We had one game where we didn’t do well, but our power play is improving. I’m just proud of the whole team and we were the more disciplined team tonight.”
It certainly was the difference as the Engineers were 1-for-9 on the power play, and did not convert on three separate five-on-three opportunities. In the meantime, the Dutchmen went 4-for-8 on the power play, scoring all of their goals with the man advantage.
For the second straight year, the Dutchmen defeated the Engineers at home in ECAC competition.
“They showed a lot of character,” Sneddon said. “[RPI was] down 2-0 and they came back and you give a team like RPI a couple of goals and they keep coming, so I give our guys a lot of credit. Our guys did a nice job of relaxing. In the past, we would be tense in situations like that but the guys were actually excited about it going into the third period.”
The Dutchmen (3-1-0, 1-0-0 ECAC) and Engineers (2-2-0, 0-1-0 ECAC) will both host Cornell and Colgate next weekend in ECAC play. The Dutchmen get Cornell on Friday evening and the Engineers get Colgate. On Saturday the teams will switch visitors.